A house that doesn’t exist according to Google. A hand-drawn map to God-knows-where. Point form instructions via an anonymous invitation. BYOB. Unknown masked hosts (assailants?). What the hell was Craig getting me into this time with this Black Market Supper Club thing?
On the drive over to Black Market Supper Club I was hoping and praying that this wasn’t a setup for a robbery attempt or some kind of kinky foodplay swingers scene. However upon entering the Grandview Heights-area host house for the evening we were greeted by a smiling and seemingly friendly server who invited us to take our seats at a long wooden table and offered to chill our wine for us. I was relieved to see that we were seated next to Surrey604’s Daman and Fatima, and we quickly realized that our table was made up of local foodies who had also gotten the mysterious invite.
So just what the capital-F is Black Market Supper Club and why are these people wearing masks? Well Black Market Supper Club is the brainchild of an anonymous chef (rumour has it they are the executive concept chef for one of the top restaurants in Canada, but 🤫) who aims to circumvent the corporate dining establishment and bring fine dining directly to the people of Surrey. While Surrey may not be ready to support an ultra high-end fine dining brick-and-mortar restaurant just yet, those who enjoy fancier food should still have some options besides making the trek into Vancouver and having to take an eighty-dollar cab ride home after having some vino with their meals.
However running a supper club out of people’s homes is a legal grey area so there is a need for some amount of discretion and secrecy. These aren’t licensed commercial kitchens that go through inspections and such, so the idea is to create a vetted community of around a couple hundred Black Market Supper Club members and host dinner parties. Moneys donated by the guests will cover the cost of doing business and current prices hover around $65-75 for a four or five course meal. Pretty reasonable considering the level of craftsmanship and quality of ingredients as you’ll see…
But first a word on tonight’s theme, which was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the famous 3 Michelin-starred restaurant The French Laundry. When our chef was apprenticing the eponymous cookbook was their first, and served as an inspiration throughout their career.
Platters of these cute little Gouda-filled gougeres were brought out to the table lined with several popsicle sticks of butter. This encouraged sharing and getting to know our tablemates as we reached across each other and passed around the sticks.The atmosphere had been quite somber and mysterious initially, but thanks to our host’s encouragements to relax and make ourselves at home we were all getting into the vibes and starting to really enjoy ourselves. The music helped with this as well, our chef was on double duty as DJ and started out with some classy jazz and classic rock tunes to set the mood. As the evening progressed so did the music, from progressive house to chillstep, and worked in tandem with the food and convo to set the mood for each dish.
The charcoal-and-gouda gougeres had crusts as delicate as a macaron’s, and the dough inside was warm and fluffy. We swiped them on the butters as instructed, and each one was a new and distinct experience.
The butters from right to left were Maitre D’ Lemon Shallot, Brown Butter Burnt Onion, and Everything Bagel. All were amazing but the brown butter burnt onion stood out with its sweet caramel flavour. The everything bagel was aptly named and tasted just like the real thing, albeit a bit salty for my palate compared to the other two.
Our first official course was the Lobster Pancake with carrot puree and brown butter. The thin folded crepe was studded with scallions and lightly browned, with a delicate spongy texture. Inside it was brimming with generous chunks of lobster meat and ooey gooey mascarpone cheese. I’m hard pressed to think of any lobster dishes I prefer over a nice-sized tail with melted butter for dipping, but this is now one of them!
The carrot puree was sweet and silky and buttery enough on its own, but the addition of the brown butter took it to new heights of decadence. Oh, and microgreens. Cute!
…From cute to sumptuously gorgeous, the Truffle Custard came served in a delicately decorated eggshell perched upon a bronze cup which was set on a blue agate coaster with gold trim that matched the eggshell. Wowzers! I could feel my eyes popping out of my head Inspector Gadget-style when Black Market Supper Club served this course.
The white truffle custard was smothered in a black truffle ragout and sprinkled sparingly with the ubiquitous aforementioned scallions. A creamy, cheesy garlic and earth taste emanated from the lighter depths below the heavy weight of the black truffle portion.
This was definitely a dish for truffle lovers, and thankfully our table all seemed to be smitten! I have no idea how my date managed to get her shell so clean without breaking it, but I seriously considered licking mine clean to get the last morsels.
Harking back to another childhood cartoon favourite, the Yabba Dabba Do course went all-out caveman by clubbing us over the head with meat, bones, and dirt. The hunk of braised shortrib was rich and satisfying, and so was the Bordelaise sauce it was smothered in. Adding to the hunter-gatherer theme, foraged chantrelle mushrooms with the odd speck of gritty soil for added authenticity dotted the plate along with edible flowers so fragrant I thought they might actually be a spice. A coarsely salted strip of exquisitely marbled rare Wagyu beef was draped over a hollow bone as if freshly killed and left to dry-cure in the hot summer sun.
And where might the marrow from that hollowed-out bone be hiding? Why, tucked into the center of your potato and hidden under (and also probably within) a layer of Bordelaise sauce, naturally. Black Market Supper Club wasn’t about to let anything go to waste, having spent a whopping FIFTY HOURS prepping this dinner! The potato was cooked fairly firm, which provided some interesting contrast in textures making the marrow seem all the more jelly-buttery. A masterstroke.
Black Market Supper Club’s French Laundry 25th Anniversary Dinner wound down with a Chocolate Veloute for dessert, and yes it was bittersweet. A soft chocolate meringue disk sat perched atop a firmer cookie layer, the chef’s love of playful contrasts on display again. The temperatures were also dualistic with the chocolate portions fresh out of the oven and piping then submerged in the frigid cinnamon stick ice cream bath. I think this dish may have looked a bit different if we hadn’t taken so much time with the photos, but the taste was scrumptious regardless.
Black Market Supper Club is engaged in a community building exercise which really resonates with us and the Surrey Eats mission. They would like to make fine dining accessible to people South of the Fraser and keep the tradition of attentive service and food prepared directly by the chef alive and free from corporate constraints. If you’d like to be a part of this rather exclusive dining experience, contact Black Market Supper Club through their website or via Instagram and tell them a bit about yourself. All walks of life welcome, but a passion for good food and a sense of adventure are a must!